What is Value of Investment in Technology for K-12?
K-12 technology leaders are under increasing pressure to justify current and proposed technology expenditures. Value of Investment (VOI) is a CoSN project to help schools to better understand the costs and benefits of proposed technology related projects. Much as corporations use Return on Investment (ROI) to evaluate the worth of these projects, schools should perform a similar evaluation. However, there is a fundamental difference between K-12 and business goals: a business exists to make money; business technology projects are in place to increase top line revenue and/or decrease overall costs. The business of schools is education; schools need to understand their educational goals and how investments in technology will support them. And for projects focused on saving money or enhancing staff productivity, CoSN provides a ROI calculation as part of the project cost estimator.
Why Should Educators Care about Technology VOI?
Alice asks, "'would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat."
— Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland
It's difficult to determine your technology direction if you don't understand current costs (where you are) and can't definitively state what you plan to accomplish (where you want to go).
VOI and TCO
Value of Investment in technology and Total Cost of Ownership for technology are related concepts and complementary, but different in focus. TCO looks at the installed (and optionally the planned) computer environment costs, while VOI looks at the anticipated costs and benefits of technology projects.
The focus of a TCO assessment is to capture and understand of all of the costs incurred for a distributed computing environment for all or a part of the school or district. A TCO assessment helps district leaders to understand all of the costs that make up the networked computer environment, including equipment and software, direct labor, and user overhead. This information can be used to plan for better efficiencies and to help determine costs for planned projects, based on historical costs. See CoSN's TCO website, www.classroomtco.org, for more information.
The focus of VOI is to project the costs and related benefits of specific proposed technology projects. On the cost side, while anticipated budgeted initial and ongoing costs are very important, the anticipated project TCO is critical for determining all of the anticipated project costs over the life of the project. Benefits include any dollar savings, efficiencies or additional revenue generation, but also need to take into account qualitative benefits that relate directly to school mission, goals and mandates.